Coun. Catherine McKenney is planning on putting forward a motion to declare homelessness a state of emergency in Ottawa.
“I would like to see the city declare it a state of emergency- call it an emergency. It’s gone beyond crisis," McKenney said.
McKenney says soaring rent and an increase in the number of short-term rentals have put pressure on affordable housing.
“We also have an opioid crisis that is having serious affects in our rooming housing, safety and housing.”
Declaring a state of emergency allows the city to ask other levels of government for help.
"There is no way we can do it as a city. We can change some policies, we can make a difference, we have a part to play, but without real serious investment of other levels of government it’s only going to get worse.”
McKenney is planning on bringing the motion to council early next month.
There is support for the motion. Peter Tilley with the Ottawa Mission says shelters are overflowing, many times putting mats on the chapel floor to allow more people to have a warm place to sleep.
Tilley is frustrated homelessness was not more of an issue in the past federal election. “It hit the radar now and then but even recently the prime minister had meeting with the opposition and most recently premiers. And guess what doesn’t seem to be hitting the dialogue? Homelessness and housing.”
Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod was in Toronto Saturday but said in a statement: “Homelessness is a complex issue requiring a complex solution to meet our city’s unique needs. I will work with my Cabinet colleagues and municipal partners to ensure no one is left out in the cold in Ottawa.”
Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna also said in a statement: "During the campaign, I called for the development of a 10-year plan to make concrete progress on more affordable housing for Ottawa Centre. I made a commitment to work with representatives from all levels of government, as well as housing sector partners, to develop a plan with clear targets and timelines. We need to address housing need across the spectrum, whether it’s supportive housing, family housing or housing for youth and seniors. And this is especially the case in the core of Ottawa.